Let's Talk about Pregnancy and Iron | Week 28-32 bumpdate
I'm all about having as little interventions as possible. That being said, during pregnancy it's super important to keep an eye on your bloods by having regular blood tests through your midwife. Iron deficiency is not uncommon during pregnancy, whether vegan or omnivore. Iron needs are much higher in pregnancy because of the increase in the amount of blood needed for both mother and baby.
Iron is super important - I wrote about it in my supplement blog post but essentially iron is needed for energy production/vitality, immunity and is also required for DNA synthesis. The main symptoms of iron deficiency include exhaustion, muscle aches, cramps, brain fog, poor memory, hair loss, headaches and shortness of breath.
If your blood test shows you are low in iron, look into bumping up your stores by taking a supplement first, then maintaining your iron by doing a few of the following:
Eat a wide variety of iron-rich plant foods, especially beans and greens.
Eat foods high in vitamin C at meals or take a vitamin C supplement - this significantly increases iron absorption. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, blackcurrants, green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, brussel sprouts), capsicums (yellow, red, and green), and cauliflower.
Beans and legumes contain phytates which can inhibit iron absorption. These can be reduced by soaking your beans and grains before you cook them.
Taking gluten out of the diet may also help increase iron absorption. More and more people are being diagnosed silent coeliac disease which may not have obvious side effects but still greatly reduces your bodies ability to absorb nutrients.
I talked about having low iron when I got back from Australia and had a lot of you ask what I did to help bring that back up to normal. Because I'm having a home-birth it's vitally important my iron levels are normal and healthy as if they are not up to scratch midwives will advise against a home birth . I've been supplementing with Iodised Liquid Iron from Good State. In addition I make sure I eat plenty of greens and vitamin C rich foods daily. I also eat iron-rich foods away from any calcium-rich foods or my calcium-fortified almond milk.
Every morning from 31 weeks onwards I've been juicing too! The juice recipe I usually make is:
Healthy Blood Making Juice
1-2 sticks celery,
1-2 beetroot, peeled
1 lemon, peeled
1 Thumb size piece of ginger
1 apple, chopped (or an orange - skin removed)
5-10 drops of liquid trace minerals
*make sure you use organic produce! Celery and apples have the most pesticides.
Beetroot - extremely good for healthy blood. Beets contain nitrates, which produce a gas called nitric acid in the blood causing blood vessels to widen and blood pressure to lower. It's also important for blood flow to the skin.
Celery - a superstar vegetable for pregnancy! Celery is strongly alkaline and contains coumarins which enhance white blood cells and support the vascular system. Celery also helps to purify the bloodstream, cleanse digestion, relax the nerves, reduce blood pressure, and clear up skin problems.
Lemon - rich in vitamin C therefore excellent to eat with iron rich foods. Lemons are also great for the skin and digestion - starting your day with lemon helps kick-start your digestion which helps to maximise nutrition from your diet and helps supply your skin, hair and nails with nutrients.
Ginger - has incredible immune-boosting and germ-fighting abilities. It also has potent anti-inflammatory properties - so best to get ginger raw to maximise it's health benefits.
Apple - helps cleanse and purify the organs, regulate blood sugar and improve circulation in your lymphatic system.
Liquid trace minerals - the soil in which our food grows has become terribly depleted of essential trace minerals over time. Therefore, if it’s not in the soil, it’s not in the food. As a family, we take these liquid trace minerals which contain 40 ionic trace minerals and other elements - the same kind of bioavailable ionic trace minerals that are found in foods! The presence of these trace minerals is essential for the utilisation of vitamins and other nutrients. For example, you must have great zinc levels for cholesterol to be converted into sex hormones. Studies have suggested that approximately 70 per cent of people living in Western countries are deficient in zinc. Zinc, which is not only essential for keeping cholesterol levels in check and producing optimal amounts of sex hormones, is also vital for our immune system, digestion, wound healing and the vitality of our skin. Trace minerals also play important roles in circulatory health including decalcification, antioxidant and cleansing functions in the body. The heart requires magnesium with every beat and potassium is used to contract the heart muscle - both of which are in this trace mineral blend.
Instead of using my juicer for this, I've just been blending all the above in a blender and straining the liquid through a nut milk bag. It works a treat! Plus, clean up is super easy compared to my slow pressed juicer. I find celery doesn't juice well in the juicer anyways so this maximises the nutrients I can squeeze out from the pulp in a nut milk bag.
I serve my juice with a handful of ice cubes and drink it first thing in the morning to cleanse my body and build good blood! At the same time, I will take my liquid iron supplement. An hour later I will have breakfast - either a smoothie or a bowl of overnight oats.
Anyways, that's all from me for now! This month of pregnancy was all about getting work and our home organised coming back from Australia. As the birth gets closer and closer I am looking forward to talking more about my homebirth and what I am doing to prepare!
Lots of love,
Dr Libby's Beauty From The Inside Out
Reed Mangels, PhD, RD